German Chancellor Angela Merkel – a veteran of global efforts to curb climate change – has refused on November 15, 2017, to set a deadline for ending her country’s use of coal.
Green groups and developing countries had called on Merkel to use global climate talks in Bonn, to set a date for her country to phase out coal-fired power plants – as she has previously done with nuclear energy.
Merkel, who is sometimes referred to as the «climate chancellor» for her long-standing efforts to combat global warming, acknowledged Germany’s practice of burning coal to generate electricity is one reason it is not on track to cut its carbon emissions by 40% from 1990 levels by 2020.
«Now, at the end of 2017, we know that we’re still missing a big chunk,» Merkel said.
Germany generates about 40% of its electricity from coal, including the light brown variety called lignite that is considered to be among the most heavily-polluting fossil fuels.
Speaking immediately after her, French President Emmanuel Macron said his country was committed to ending the use of coal by 2021.
The task is made a lot easier for France by the fact the country hardly has any coal-fired plants and still gets most of its electricity from nuclear power.
Several other countries, including Britain, Canada and Italy, have also announced they will stop using coal in the coming years.
Mrs Merkel refusal to commit on coal drew criticism from campaigners in Bonn.
«Angela Merkel has missed her chance to show her leadership qualities on climate change,» said Mohamed Adow of the charity Christian Aid.
«A UN climate summit on home soil was the perfect place to bury coal and set the date that Germany would phase out the dirtiest fossil fuel.»